Altamira Training Center

Clenildo drove me out for a quick trip to the Altamira Training Center, what we used to call “The Ranch.” Steve and him each have two sows and a boar out there, and they are producing well. Clenildo likes the fact that it is now easy to have a feast. All you need is the occasion, and those are easy to think up.
The churches in Altamira have a kind of Conference Center or Camp here that is used almost every week-end and many week days. There are dorms, bathrooms, a large kitchen / mess hall area and a meeting hall. Plus, of course, a soccer field.

Bus Ride to Altamira

The bus ride from Marabá to Altamira on Friday took about 12 hours. Here are some photos I took along the way.
1. A trucker has a siesta.
2. A bus driver has a siesta.
3. The inside of our bus.
4. A poodle in Pacajá.
5. 38 degrees C, 100.4 degrees F in Anapú, around 3:30 p.m.
6. Crossing the Xingu River

Life in Marabá

Here are a few photos of life on the chacará here in Marabá:

1. Ivanildo and Marcos race against each other on family day.
2. The soccer teams are still going strong.
3. Mangos on the ground by our soccer field.
4. Ivanildo and Zezym paint the church floor.
5. Last February two noni fruit trees for my birthday. They have fruit!


Dreams for 2012

“The only reason I haven’t started planting churches yet is because I am swamped right now. We need more workers.” Ivanildo and Monica are telling me, Art and Cyndi about opportunities that are knocking on our door.

1. We have been invited to start a home group 40 kms up the train track. There is also a road to this village. Home groups often turn into churches.

2. There is another group of one of member’s relatives that is not going to any church about 20 kms away, in another direction. They are inviting us to come start a group.

3. The biggest mining company in this region (and one of the biggest in the world), discovered an enormous gold deposit right under a village a few hours from here. They are relocating the village, forming a whole new one some distance away. We may be able to get some lots really cheap if we commit to building a church. The mining company wants an instant “small town” in this new place.

These are the newest opportunities. We still have:

4. One of the families who moved from here is inviting us to come about 4 hours to her village.

5. We have never followed up on the ferry crossing village, which had no church when we did our survey trip.

6. We really want to get out along the Tocantins River and the Tucurui Resevoir to see about church planting there.

Closer to home we also have many opportunities.

7. Just a km from our church on of the youth has a home group of about 50 or 60 children. None of these parents come to church. If we could get some land and start a church near their place that would be a great outreach center for our youth to start working.

8. We have a very “young” church, primarily youth and adolescents. Many adults are interested and come sometimes, but Ivanildo and Monica are chomping at the bit to start an Alpha Group Bible Study. When parents come to church with their children, marriages start to strengthen, families get healthier and so does the church.

9. We are planning a big 3-day Youth Retreat for the days when the country celebrates Carnival. This will be on February 19-22, and will need to be subsidized by the mission. We will charge a Retreat Fee and encourage the parents to help their youth celebrate in a healthier way, but we are still a young church in a high-risk neighbourhood.

10. Some of our youth are starting to get their driver’s licences. This is a big deal. It is very expensive and takes a long time. This will help with the outreach churches. In Altamira many church members have motor bikes and head out on week-ends. This is our dream too.

11. Ivanildo and Monica are dreaming of two other conferences later this year to help Train Leaders from within our church.

a. An Encounter Retreat brings powerful results in changed lives. It has been over a year. These Retreats involve considerable preparation and also renting a bus and off-site facilities, one for guys and one for girls. It is a week-end of focusing on God, life and eternity. We are thinking it might be best to wait for this retreat until after we (The Bergens) are back in Brasil.

b. The National Pastor’s Conference will be in early June in Brasilia, the country capital just over 1,000 miles South of Marabá. Their will be workshops on worship leading among other things. Events like this really inspire young leaders, and encourage those who already have some scars.

12. Some of the youth are starting to get jobs. Most of them are still in elementary or high school. Some dream of university. Some dream of a happy marriage. Getting jobs, learning to develop healthy families, learning professional skills, these are all part of transforming a neighborhood and building a church which will become an outreach and training center. Right now…zeal is high, local church offerings are low. As we work to maintain the zeal, the church offerings situation will change. We have seen it happen before.

Could it really be that the God who created the universe actually communicates with people? Individuals? Could it actually be that He wants to get personally involved? Jesus said, “…I will build My church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” Matthew 16:18b In context, this was just after Peter received a revelation of who Jesus really was. People today are still getting that revelation. I remember when I first got this idea in the Yukon, as a young adult, where I was working right near the Arctic Circle. “Could it really be that the God who created the stars, this planet, all of everything, wants to talk personally to me?” Have you ever seen a cartoon where someone’s thought gets a dim light bulb, and then it turns into a bright light bulb? This idea, and the reality of what happened to me in the weeks and months that followed, put a fire in my soul. I watch this happen over and over. “Lord, please send more workers into Your Harvest fields. Please send out more revelation insight into who You really are, how much You love us, how kind and compassionate You really are. Build Your church.”

Sunday Church Service

Here is a photo of the front of our church. Ivanildo and the group here have been busy with work bees and projects!
I am showing Max and some of the guys after church a short story from 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 about a man who was a difficult birth for his mother, and how God blessed this man. God even gave him land! Cool! They wrote it all down. One of the kids was running around with my camera and took this photo.

Max and Zezym

Saturday Night in Marabá

“We have put the youth in charge of everything for the Saturday night service. They decide the order of the service, who will preach and if there will be other activities. This is the first week. Max is preaching and he is real nervous about it.” Ivanildo is talking to me, Rick, during my first day back in Marabá.

During the worship (singing part) I sensed the Holy Spirit in a way that is stronger than sensed His “tangible” presence in a long time.

Max got everyone’s attention. “I am going to share something with you I have not shared with anyone here. When I was born, it was a very difficult birth for my mom. The mid-wife, or delivery nurse, told my mom she should just kill me, because kids that give difficult births give nothing but trouble all their lives. For many years this really bothered me. A lot. I tried my best to not be trouble, to succeed in life.” After talking for 15 more minutes he gave an alter call and 4 of the young people came forward to give their lives to Jesus.

Then the youth played youth group games for about 1/2 an hour. What a cool service!

Arrival in Marabá

I flew from Vancouver / Chicago / São Paulo / Brasília / Marabá. While I was in Chicago a blizzard blew in causing airlines in O’hare and Midway to cancel more than 500 flights. We were an hour and half late getting out, partly because they had to de-ice our plane. It was a nice hour and half, sitting in a big armchair, reading a book. We were all glad to get airborne.
Here are two photos I took and one I copied off the internet.
I arrived here in Marabá at 10 p.m. It’s about 27C outside.